Paris in the springtime

Musée d’Orsay
Philip Fisher
Philip Fisher
Columnist
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In his never-ending efforts to please AccountingWEB subscribers, your tireless columnist spent last week trekking the streets of Paris tirelessly in the glorious sunshine.

The city is magnificent at the best of times and when the temperature hits the mid-20s (80s) it is an April dream come true. Even better, you can now get there in two and a half hours for as little as £29 on Eurostar.

Sightseeing

60 miles in three and a half days sounds like a lot of walking but it does give you a real feel for Paris, its people, its parks and monuments.

While there are many iconic sites that one cannot afford to miss such as the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe, Paris has much more to offer particularly in the sunshine. Whether it is the shops of the Grands Boulevards, architecture that is distinctly different from anything that you will see in the United Kingdom, the Tuileries Gardens or the bridges across the Seine, there is something to appeal to every taste.

Galleries and museums

Inevitably, the Louvre must be regarded as the must-see attraction in Paris and, arguably the world. Two half-day visits are nowhere near enough to do it justice but provided rich entertainment.

The Mona Lisa has become a tacky tourist attraction for tacky tourist. However, in the same room is Veronese’s awesome and gigantic Marriage at Cana, which takes the breath away every time you see it.

Elsewhere, some star attractions include Rubens’ Medici Gallery, some superbly detailed paintings by Panini and Canova’s sculptures.

By the end of a wearying couple of visits, you only just begin to scratch the surface but what a surface.

The Musée d’Orsay undoubtedly has the best collection of modern art and particularly Impressionists and their ilk that one could ever hope to see. Every visit is a treat and the Van Gogh’s almost literally stunning.

Elsewhere, the Orangerie featured some fantastic paintings by Renoir, although several rooms were closed due to strike action.

The Petit Palais was hardly petit but it was certainly a palais, with a tempting assortment of artworks to please most tastes.

For those that like their art modern, Centre Pompidou with its external pipes that are reminiscent of Lloyd’s of London is unmissable. While some of the contemporary work might come into the classification of “my five-year-old could do better”, the iconic masterpieces near to the top of the building are fit to compete with any other collection in the world.

Theatre

Language can be a problem in any foreign country unless you happen to be bilingual or better. Even so, was possible to derive great enjoyment from a trip to the Comédie Française, perhaps the most famous theatre in the world.

While they do not have productions in English, those who like their Shakespeare should still enjoy Robert Carsen’s modern production of La Tempête or The Tempest. The comedy was extremely funny with a Gallic twist, while the pathos hit home just as effectively in a glorious evening at a really special venue.

A company called Theatre in Paris has been working hard to help English speakers to find culture that will fill free evenings in the city. At present, they have a rolling roster of around eight plays that are either performed in English or with surtitles.

At another superb location, Théâtre Le Ranelagh, a talented company put on a version of Cyrano De Bergerac that was equally funny, moving and thrilling, enhanced by some really carefully prepared surtitles in English.

On the food front, such cosmopolitan city can offer anything that one wants. However, for those that are not into their boeuf bourguignon, perhaps the best traditional alternative is a crêpe, which is tasty, relatively healthy and if you are particularly greedy (after 60 miles of walking, I was) can start with a delicious savoury option and end with the triple chocolate daily special.

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